I am very happy to be able to share my views, thoughts and feelings on what is occurring within the European Union and the Spanish policy making sphere through this blog.
In this article, my first for European Public Affairs, I have to satisfy a personal need. I need to eliminate the rage, impotence and stupor I harbour, before being able to find the objective perspective required to analyse further issues.
In a way, a lot of the occurrences in Spanish government seem like a comedy act. Is the Spanish government laughing at all of us when there are no cameras recording them? This is the feeling that the average Spaniard could have, particularly when the evening news – at least it is the feeling that I have, one of being in a magic comedy show.
To illustrate some absurd actions, People’s Party (PP) parliamentarian Andrea Fabra, whose father was involved in corruption cases and has won the National Lottery 7 times, shouted in a plenary session: “Fuck them all”. This was referring to those on subsidies (social security), after the approval of biggest budgets cuts in social expenditure of the current Democratic establishment. Then there are the latest scandals on illegal financing of the same party (the PP),. In these scandals, it was publicly admitted that they received a certain sum of money and yet nobody, I repeat NOBODY, even considered resigning. Depending on your perspective, this is actually quite comical. While generally acknowledged that the dictatorship came to an end in 1976, this was only a cheap ticket or a facade of sorts. The sons and daughters of the Franquist supporters are still using the same despotic, authoritarian and antidemocratic methods of politics which were used during the dictatorship’s 40 years of ‘amusing and entertaining’ the Spanish people.
I will use just one of the myriad situations to exemplify my point. In the era of the budget cuts, the Anti-riot material expenditure rose by 1760 %. To clarify – there is no point or coma in this number; it rose by One thousand Seven hundred Sixty percent! But this is only the beginning of the comedy show, when the money you thought did not exist… tadaaaa – It was suddenly there!
Despite the fact that they have an absolute majority in the low chamber, they (the PP) have become a less democratic government in the last 40 years due to the amount of royal decrees that have been passed. There have been 27 royal decrees in only 9 months of government. In Article 86 of the Spanish Constitution, it declares that laws resulting from royal decrees are reserved for, “cases of extraordinary and urgent necessity”. The large number of laws by royal decrees has occurred with PP having a large majority in Parliament. A royal decree law in the hands of a government with absolute majority is a resource unbecoming of democracy; the government decrees something, and when the measure comes to the National Congress the government simply use its majority to validate the new law. No debate, no amendments, no real discussion. It has been used to pass laws such as labour reform. This was done without social dialogue with any social partner’s which seems to be a plain imposition of economic ideology.
This takes me to the following point, the current government in place has been able to mobilise the extremely passive Spanish Civil Society, and not in a show of governmental support. The resistance that Spanish society has shown does not have any paragon in the last two hundred years of Spanish history. That alone makes it quite significant. First the Parliament was surrounded by citizens and then the protests were classified as illegal. Soon after, the use of violence was theoretically justified and one could say that the display of “legitimate violence” has been so extensive that “grandmas” have been hit to the ground. Mothers have lost eyes via rubber bullets whilst the security policies by Government Delegates have been reminiscent of the old franquist times.
Corruption apart, what has been more dramatic, from my perspective, was the recent admittance by the current Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, that he does not intend to follow through on his electoral promises, and yet, he feels that he has done his duty. Dear Mariano, I would like to ask you, what mandate, from what sovereign people, of what country are you following? If you do not respect the mandate that the Spanish citizens have given to you, then explain what you are doing in Spanish government and what is leading your policies? If not the Spanish voters, is it then the European Union? Which doesn’t have a mandate itself beyond the promotion of the most Neo-liberal views. Can you explain to me who told you this hilarious joke on austerity? Do you have any way of denying that you and your party are a gang of liars, cheats and cowards with the sole selfish desire to PP privatise as much as you can from the public sector? In the era of the austerity, did the Spanish citizen give you the mandate of constructing a non-sustainable macro-gambling facility called “New Vegas”? Is the model of “New Vegas” how you plan to sustain a country; with games, alcohol, prostitutes and other similar economic activities? How do you rationalise the legitimacy of your new labour reforms when they demonstrate that making it easier to fire someone does not equate to an increase in hiring? In the end, it seems to be – why not! What credibility could you have after the corrupted front your party has displayed? All the black money which is being demonstrated, with ni trial close to commencing. Now after all these comedy acts that are anything but laughable, do you want us to still be laughing? Who was responsible for naming Fatima Bañez, who is illiterate, as the Employment Minister of the most crucial employment crisis of the recent times, when his most significant answer to the crisis was that the Virgin Mary will help us get out of it, this must be a joke, because, it is… right?
Despite what you Spanish politicians may think of yourselves, your actions are not funny. This crisis was created by your forefathers, the people who sat down in government, creating misleading growth policies in the 90s, enforcing growth in construction rather than other more reasonable, sustainable sectors. They were putting on a puppet performance in the democratic transition and now it is your turn to be the funny ones, your actions make light of those poor people who jump off of their balconies because they cannot pay the bills for their housing anymore. You laugh to the faces of the people who are suffering; putting more emphasis on the 500 000 signatures in a popular legislative initiative on Bull Fighting, rather than to 1 500 000 signatures on approving the lieu of payment. You are just a magnificent joker.
Moreover, you are becoming a magician. When discussing this topic, I simply have to mention two issues. Firstly, from out of your sleeve, a Judicial reform came about which will make access to judicial protection more expensive. This will undoubtedly increase the cases of helplessness, making justice only available to those who can afford it. Your lack of transparency is infamous; no one is allowed backstage to see the hidden doors and tools of your magical ways. We, the Spanish people, had to get acquainted to you through the foreign press – not our own, about depleting our social security savings to avoid an EU backed bailout. You have, in all actuality, broken the chains of innumerable political pacts which protect these savings, and now they have ‘magically’ vanished. Bravo! The financial times was not wrong naming you, “The mysterious Mariano”, it is an appropriate title.
Nevertheless, the sad fact is that we, the Spanish citizens, are still purchasing tickets for this show and it is reasonable to think that in the next election nothing will change. Maybe the colour of the government, but the low quality of our governors is likely to remain and it is our fault for being this permissive with whoever rules our country. We should not forget that sovereignty lies with us, the citizens, and we should have the utmost input in national policy, because we are the ultimate addressees of such policies.
I will leave you here because, like usual at this point of the show, I get tired of the puffs of smoke, and tricks galore. However, let’s be optimistic, let’s believe in Magic! Let’s imagine that our dreams can come true. There is an ultimate trick I am waiting to see, one last final performance. I would like to see the act of this government’s resignation, its dismantlement, and a call for a new election process due to their previously highlighted excesses: their lack of effectiveness, their lack democratic values, their lack of transparency, their lack of political responsiveness, their lack of credibility and, why not, their lack of shame. As with many actors, they have also gone over the top, with their Authoritarianism, cynicism and desire for personal gain – and this does not even touch upon corruption. At the end of the day, unfortunately, it is common to expect all Spanish politicians to be corrupt – it is their excess of this corruption and their bad taste for humour which makes this magic comedy show one you would rather not see.
Article by Juan Antonio Pavon Losada